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Norway forfeits match as Broomgate 2.0 hits European championships

A curling controversy is sweeping through the European championships being held in Helsingborg, Sweden and aptly, brooms are at the heart of it. 

Officials criticized over controversial ruling on substitute broom

Norway's men's curling team was forced to forfeit a win at the European championships because of a broom infraction. (Associated Press)

A curling controversy is sweeping through the European championships being held in Helsingborg, Sweden and aptly, brooms are at the heart of it. 

Brooms and sweepers being in the midst of a curling debate is nothing new as it was only a few years ago there was an uproar — Broomgate 1.0 — over a new form of broomhead some curlers were using.

In 2015, the introduction of a new fabric for broomheads was causing rocks to curl in an almost unnatural way. It was determined that the new fabric being used was almost like sandpaper, giving teams who were using them an unfair advantage.

In response, the new broomheads were banned and in addition, players would have to have their sweeping devices approved by an official prior to each game to ensure it's legal. 

On Sunday, Norway and England were playing in the men's event and the Norwegian team was in control, up 8-3 after five ends.

That's when things got interesting.  

With the outcome seemingly determined, Norway decided to bring their alternate, Magnus Nedregotten, into the game in the sixth end to get some playing time in the event he was called upon later in the championship.

Nedregotten was using his approved broom to sweep and when England conceded after the eighth end, Norway walked off the ice with what appeared to be a 9-5 victory.

Not so fast.

Ruling not going over well

A short time later Norway was informed they would have to forfeit the win because Nedregotten had used his broom instead of that of the player he replaced.

According to rule C3 (g) of the World Curling Federation's rulebook: "If an alternate player comes into a game, that player must use the brush head of the player being replaced. Penalty: If a new brush head is brought into the game, the team will forfeit the game."

According to Steffen Walstad, Norway's third, "After sweeping a couple rocks we were informed that in fact [Nedregotten] should use the broom of the player he was replacing. We switched brooms, thanked the umpire for the heads up and played the remaining two ends before England conceded the game in the eighth end."

According to the World Curling Federation: "Norway contravened ... rule C3(g) relating to the use of a brush by a substitute, resulting in Norway forfeiting the game."

The ruling is not going over well with the Norwegians and many others in the curling world a day later.

Walstad took to Facebook to post a lengthy rant about the ruling. 

"What is the spirit of curling if the umpires of the game have forgotten them?" Walstad asked. "Curling is a most wonderful game, in large part because it's built on mutual respect and an understanding that most players act with good intentions."

Walstad is referring to another World Curling Federation rule regarding the spirit of curling that states: "This spirit should influence both the interpretation and the application of the rules of the game and also the conduct of all participants on and off the ice."

Walstad says these values "seem forgotten to the umpires of our biggest championships."

The Norwegians found support among Canadian curlers.

'Embarrassing'

Two-time Canadian curling Olympian Ben Hebert took to Twitter to weigh in:

"This is embarrassing but I'm not surprised coming from World Curling," Hebert wrote in his post.

Another Canadian, three-time Brier and world champion Brent Laing, also sounded off, saying, "Did this really happen? Tell me this is a joke of some kind that I don't understand. Our sport and our athletes deserve much better than this."

World Curling says the decision is final and the rules are clear, but Walstad and the Norwegians aren't happy.

"Get any player to look at the situation that happened, the rulebook and use common sense and I'm sure they'd do a better job acting in accordance to our values," Walstad said.

About the Author

Devin Heroux

CBC reporter

Devin Heroux reports for CBC News and Sports. He is now based in Toronto, after working first for the CBC in Calgary and Saskatoon.

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